Leaders must recognize, promote and protect the specific collective identities of their nations, but they must also open up to the globalised world, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said in Panaji, India.
Speaking at the India Ideas Conclave 2017, Kumaratunga hailed the leadership qualities of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Abraham Lincoln, and asserted, “Many of the conflicts which we see around us, in our region, in the world, may not have existed or could have been resolved if we have leaders with such an agenda.”
“And when I say the specific identity of a nation, I do not mean only the identity of one group – the dominant group in a nation. I mean the collective identity of a nation, which is formed on the collective identities of all the communities, living within that nation,” she said. She further said that the demand for identity, the recognition of and for identity, right or wrong had “led to much violence in our generation within the last approximately 75 years.”
“The conflicts we see around us, almost all of them are also founded on the demands of identity – the identity of groups within nations or specific identities of different communities. Today this situation has become further exacerbated,” she said, adding, “Even the major world powers, rather than opening out, are limiting themselves to promoting a specific interest of their nation.
The recent America First policy adopted by the present American government is an example of this.”
She added that leaders in general cannot follow people but must instead lead them. “Indeed they must be sensitive to their people’s needs, desires and hopes, but they must lead them towards enlightenment, towards what is right for the nation, but also what is right for the world. A world marked by diverse communities, diverse peoples, different nations intermingled within,” said Kumaratunga, and added, “With the recognition that each of the communities will have the right, the full right to equal status, to their culture, religions and social traditions. But they must all come together in one nation, recognising the national identity as one nation. I would say this is essential in this moment, in our modern world,” she said.
Source: The Hindu